ABSTRACT Although there have been some major breakthroughs in the field of exploration geochemistry over the past ten years, there is still much work to be done to advance the understanding of geochemical processes in different environments and proper application of exploration geochemistry in mineral exploration. Some future research directions in exploration geochemistry include: (1) detailed mechanistic studies of processes affecting the mobilization, transport and fixation of metals that result in patterns of soil geochemistry, gas compositions and other indicators of concealed mineral deposits; (2) further developments in heavy mineral indicator techniques, starting with cheaper and more effective separation methodologies, to evaluate both their distribution and, in particular, their mineral chemistry to determine elemental signatures for an expanded range of deposit types; (3) assessment of survival rates of minerals, in particular sulphide minerals, dispersed through various types of surficial materials associated with a variety of mineral deposit types in differing geological, surficial and climatic regimes globally; (4) evaluation of the usefulness of isotopes of various elements such as Pb, Se, Cu and Hg which could potentially help determine the transport mechanisms for elements released from bedrock to sites of surface accumulation; (5) further examination of the application of groundwater, and other types of water, to determine geochemical signatures for different mineral deposit types in order to establish the potential, the limitations, and the workable protocols for these methods; (6) development of field portable instrumentation for multielement and multispecies analysis of waters and soil gases; and (7) further refinement and development of visualization and interpretation techniques, particularly within a GIS context. There also needs to be a return to the application of fundamental regional reconnaissance scale geochemical surveys and an increasing awareness of the role that geochemical data can play as environmental baseline data. The biggest problem in the immediate future, however, will be the survival of ‘exploration geochemists’ due to the aging of the small population of existing geochemists and the global decline in opportunities for the education, development and training of young exploration geochemists.
- Received July 21, 2008.
- Accepted September 6, 2008.
- © 2010 AAG/Geological Society of London